The Republic of Cameroon is located close to the equator (north of it) in Central Africa limited in the west by the Atlantic Ocean and has frontiers with Nigeria, Chad, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. The country has an area of 475,000 km2 and a population of 22 million. Cameroon is sometimes described as "Africa in miniature" because it exhibits all the major climates and vegetation of the continent: mountains, desert, rain forest, savanna grassland, and ocean coastland. The climate varies with terrain, from tropical along the coast to semi-arid and hot in the north near Chad.
The annual precipitation is highest in the coastal and mountainous regions, with a peak during the wet season (May – November). The West African monsoon comes from south-west and brings moist air from the Atlantic Ocean. The wettest regions receive then more than 400 mm per month (exceeding 3,000 mm per year) while in the semi-arid regions in the north less than 100 mm occur. The major river of Cameroon is the 920 km long Sanaga River. Its river basin covers around 140,000 km2 and thus makes up 30 % of the country’s area. Sanaga River and other bigger rivers, i.e. Nyong, Ntem, Mungo and the Wouri flow to the Atlantic. The Logone and its inflows drain to Lake Chad in the north. The Benue and its inflows Faro, the Mandara, the Alantika and Mayo Kebi drain northward to the Niger River.
The electrification rate in Cameroon is low, with around 55 % of the population having access to electricity. This situation differs even more in the rural regions, where the electrification rate is estimated at only 17 %. To increase the electrification rate, Cameroon has drafted policies that enable private investors to access the market, however private investment is still low. Also, Cameroon’s main challenge will be to maintain the balance between supply and demand over the next years. Improving the state of the grid will be key to reduce losses.
It is known that SHP can be a provider for mini-grids and thus overcoming the obstacle of a weak national grid. Although Cameroon aims for improvements in the electricity sector, still, there is a lack of adequate regulation and institutional setting for the off-grid, renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. The political will to change this situation can be seen in the government’s activities, that is currently working on dedicated laws (some already implemented) for renewable energies and energy efficiency. With an increase of SHP as HYPOSO plans to kick off, the electrification situation in Cameroon can be improved while at the same time a dependency on foreign energy sources can be prevented.
Cameroon receives a lot of precipitation and has also a favourable relief for hydropower production. In fact, the hydropower potential of Cameroon ranks second in Central Africa behind the much bigger Democratic Republic of Congo with a hydropower potential of 10 GW, of which as of now only 722 MW have been exploited. Regarding SHP, an estimated potential of 615 MW exists, however a complete assessment is still missing. To date, only 2 small hydro plants (18 MW total) are under construction. A number of small hydro projects being developed by private companies are still in the feasibility stage. There are only three aging large hydro plants under operation with a total installed capacity of 721 MW. It is one aim of HYPOSO to assess and map the best sites for SHP in all target countries, so for Cameroon this would mean preparing the field for future development. The establishment of a high-quality database, as foreseen in HYPOSO is urgently needed in Cameroon. Furthermore, HYPOSO will also assess the political, regulatory and financial framework conditions, and will, together with the financial expert, analyse the possibilities for better private investment stability.